If you study abroad

You can get financial aid abroad in the following situations:

  • You are completing a course of study abroad.
  • A period of study or job training abroad is part of a course of study you are completing in Finland.

Have you moved abroad from Finland? Read more about your entitlement to social security coverage.

Were you planning to study abroad but stayed back in Finland because of COVID-19?

Please tell Kela if you were granted student financial aid on the assumption that you would be living abroad, but are instead now living in Finland as a result of COVID-19. Learn more.

Completing an entire course of study abroad

The study programme must be full-time and comparable with a course of study in Finland that would qualify you for financial aid.

Studies completed at a foreign educational institution are considered full-time studies if the educational institution has defined them as being full-time studies. Studies at an institute of higher education can also be considered full-time studies if the extent of the studies is on average at least 5 credits per month of studies. Other types of studies can also be considered full-time studies if the extent of the studies according to the study plan is on average at least 25 hours per week.

Further, the educational institution must be supervised by public authorities. This means that it is subsidised by the state, supervised by the educational authorities or accredited by an accreditation agency. Also a private educational institution can be supervised by public authorities.

You cannot get financial aid in the following situations:

  • You are pursuing studies entirely through distance learning.
  • You are attending a programme preparing you for university study.
  • You are completing an individual course.
  • You participate in a language course.
  • You have not been granted the right to study towards a degree by your educational institution.
  • Your educational institution is a registered company.
  • You get financial aid from abroad.

Finnish nationals

If you are a Finnish national you can get financial aid for foreign study

  • provided that you have had a municipality of residence in Finland for at least 2 years out of the 5 years preceding the beginning of study. This means that you begin your course of study less than 3 years after you moved abroad, or
  • provided that, on the basis of your living circumstances, you have close ties to Finland. Periods of residence in Finland, your family relations, livelihood, occupational and other corresponding circumstances will be taken into consideration.

Foreign nationals

If you are not a Finnish national, you cannot usually get financial aid for a course of study completed entirely abroad.

However, you are eligible for financial aid if you have a permanent right of residence in Finland as defined in section 1, subsection 2 of the Act on Student Financial Aid or you are an employee referred to in Regulation (EU) No 492/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council or in the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, or such an employee’s family member and

  • if you have had a municipality of residence in Finland for at least 2 years out of the 5 years preceding the beginning of study, or
  • provided that, on the basis of your living circumstances, you have close ties to Finland, in which case your family relations, livelihood, occupational and other corresponding circumstances will be taken into consideration.

Additional requirements:

  • If you are an employee within the meaning of the EU provisions, your course of study must be closely related to work you perform in Finland, or you must have become unemployed in Finland through no fault of your own. As an employee you can only get financial aid for vocational study for example in an institute of vocational education, for degree-oriented study in a university, or for the attainment of basic or advanced vocational qualifications.
  • If you are the family member of someone who is an employee within the meaning of the EU provisions, you can get financial aid for all types of education covered under the same conditions as Finnish nationals, as long as your legal guardian retains employee status in Finland.

Completing part of a degree abroad

You can get financial aid abroad if your course of study or period of job training abroad is a recognised part of a course of study you are completing in Finland. You can gain access to education or training abroad through an exchange programme or find it yourself.

If you receive general housing allowance, check how studies abroad affect the housing allowance.

If you are in upper secondary school, you usually cannot get financial aid for a year as an exchange student or other period of study abroad because the studies are not recognised as part of the Finnish upper secondary school curriculum. However, financial aid may be available if you have a certificate from a Finnish upper secondary school stating that the foreign study is accepted as equivalent to at least 10 courses or 2 Matriculation Examination tests per term in a Finnish upper secondary school.

Read more